Hong Kong’s first stamps appeared in 1862, when seven stamps, with a top value of 96c., were issued (SG 1/7). All are desirable in mint condition with the three top values (24c., 48c., 96c.) classifi ed as very scarce to rare. Used are somewhat easier to obtain, although really fi ne examples are exceedingly scarce.
New printings and values began to appear from 1863 on Crown CC paper (8/19). This set includes one of the crown jewels of British Empire philately, the fabled 96c. olive-bistre in mint condition (18). Of the other mint stamps in the set, only the 12c. pale blue (12a) appears with any regularity. In comparison, used stamps are relatively commonplace, thanks in no small part to the vast amount of correspondence that occurred between Hong Kong and England in the 19th century. Nevertheless, certain values are very difficult to obtain with the 18c. (13) chief amongst them. Look out also for the 6c. lilac and 6c. mauve (10, 10a), and 48c. pale rose (17). I’ve mentioned the damaged ‘GKON’ variety on the 30c. vermilion (15b) and 30c. mauve (16a) before; the latter is very definitely a candidate to be found unrecognised in old-time collections.
The 1877 16c. yellow (22) is not a scarce stamp in used condition by any means; however most examples are heavily used by ‘killer’ cancels. Undamaged stamps with c.d.s. cancel are very desirable and will often rate a premium over the catalogue price.
The last of the Crown CC stamps appeared in 1880 (28/31). The listed shades of the 2c. (28, 28a) are quite a bit scarcer than the current catalogue prices suggest, while the 5c. (29) has long been recognised as quite a difficult stamp in used condition.
The 1882-96 issue (32/39) is relatively easy to assemble in used condition although the 10c. deep blue-green (37) might cause a few problems. Mint stamps from this issue are a curious combination of the very common (4c. slate-grey, 5c. pale blue) and the very rare (10c. dull mauve, 10c. deep blue-green). One to watch would be the 2c. rose-lake (32) – this stamp is particularly elusive fine mint.
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